President Obama delivered his farewell address to the nation on January 10 in Chicago touting his achievements and praising the legacy he leaves behind as any outgoing president is expected to do.
Indeed, the economy is up. The unemployment is 4, 6 percent – the lowest level since 2007. The US economy advanced an annualized 3.5 percent on quarter in the three months to September of 2016, up from 1.4 percent growth in the previous period and better than a 3.2 percent expansion in the second estimate. It is the highest growth rate in two years. Steady gains in the labor market, including a post-recession drop in the unemployment rate in November, have made the headlines.
Personal disposable income and household spending have remained fairly solid throughout 2016, boosted by buoyant consumer confidence, which jumped to a nine-year high in November. The U.S. economic outlook is healthy according to experts. The GDP growth is predicted to rise to 2.1 percent in 2017. Unemployment will continue at the natural rate. There isn't too much inflation or deflation.
To large extent the success is the result of Quantitative easing (QE) started by…George Bush Jr., Mr. Obama’s predecessor, the FRS keeping the money supply growing at a slow rate and the policy of lending a helping hand to the corporations and banks «to big to fail» that runs contrary to the principles of social justice. The various schemes large banks engaged in with the free money – including mortgage-backed securities, company mergers, company debt offerings, stock buybacks – did nothing but secure that wealth for the 1%.
The future of the Affordable Care Act - «the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens» - is more than uncertain. It’s quite possible the legislation will be undone.
Obama is taking credit for creating around 1.7 million jobs but 8 million had been lost before he took office, so about half of the new working places had been restored, not created anew. For comparison, 21 million jobs were created under Bill Clinton. And there was no such incredible growth of national debt.
Under Obama, the debt grew by $9, 2 trillion up to $19, 9 trillion. For comparison, the growth was over $5 trillion under Bush Jr. who has gone down in history as one of the worst presidents ever. Remember President Obama saying «I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future», in September, 2009?
The 50 largest U.S. corporations currently stash about $1.4 trillion in offshore tax havens. The burden of regulatory bureaucracy went up to $900 billion. The living standards for middle class families have not improved. Income inequality has grown. The gap between the rich and poor is as wide as ever. More than 50% of Americans are on some kind of government assistance
Perhaps, the dashed hopes for better days under Obama resulted in the phenomenon of Donald Trump – the candidate openly challenging the established order of things. On election day the majority of the people rejected the president’s policies by either casting their vote for Donald Trump or not voting.
The failure of Obama’s Middle East policy is an indisputable fact. In Syria, the US actually sided with the extremist groups supported by the Gulf monarchies. The President was too soft on radical Islam – the term he avoided at all costs. Nothing like a clearly defined Middle East strategy appeared during the Obama years.
The US is responsible for Libya facing turmoil today. The Iran deal President Obama was so proud of meets stiff opposition on Capitol Hill. Neither the Raqqa offensive in Syria, nor the Mosul operation in Iraq has ended with success. Military cooperation with Russia was limited to de-confliction. All the attempts to cooperate have failed.
The US suffered a major setback as Europeans revolted against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) offered by Obama.
The same way the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) got stymied.
The reset with Russia led to the worst deterioration of relations since the Cold War. Now the outgoing president uses Russia for his own aims going to any length in an attempt to complicate life for President-elect Trump. And he resorts to sanctions – something that has never been effective. This policy backlashes and brings no benefits.
The attacks against Russia accused of malicious cyber activities raise questions. The part of the intelligence report available to public offers no evidence to support the claims. Suppose the classified portion is different, there is no way to know. Then how come the reaction was quite different and no sanctions were introduced when China was accused of cyber activities hostile to the United States? The Obama administration never provided any explanation.
When it comes to spying activities and eavesdropping operations, the US is not an innocent lamb. Remember the Edward Snowden’s revelations and the scandal related to interception of German Chancellor’s phone conversations? It’s like looking at the speck that is in your brother's eye without taking notice of the log in your own eye. It’s important to take notice of the fact that the NSA illegal spying activities were kept out of spotlight during the US election race.
In early 1970s, the Soviet Union and the United States treated each other with great suspicion. Richard Nixon was no friend of the Soviet Union but he did visit Moscow and signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks/Treaty (SALT 1 Treaty) to freeze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at existing levels, while the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty restricted both sides to only two sites for anti-ballistic missile defense. Would the world be a better place now if he did not do it then? Should Mr. Obama’s personal animosity toward Russia prevail over national interests?
After 8 years of Obama in office, the world is facing the most serious crisis in the fifty-year history of nuclear arms control with almost every channel of negotiation deadlocked. This is a very serious problem for the next administration to grapple with.
Mr. Obama worked really hard to do his best but failed to achieve much, probably, because he had no clear vision of how to fix what was wrong and do what he believed was right. He had no principles and no convictions. He often blew hot and cold unable to make a definite decision.
Barack Obama really wanted to move America forward but he was not up to the task. The expectations are high that Donald Trump will do better.